POP MUSIC REVIEW : Tull's Anderson Enchants With a Softer Touch

After 26 years fronting Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson doesn't really need a second act to his career. But Tull's wild-eyed flutist presented some impressive new stretches Wednesday at the Pantages Theater, leading a four-man "pocket orchestra" in a set of his recent neo-classical compositions, plus a set of refurbished Tull rarities.

Instrumental works from Anderson's new album, "Divinities," were full of intriguing textures, and demonstrated the breadth of his talents both as a composer and a soloist. He was ably backed by bass, violin, synthesizers and some frequently stunning percussion.

The second half of the concert featured an hour's worth of such engaging, semi-obscure Tull fare as "Sossity" and "Cheap Day Return." Anderson, often strumming an acoustic guitar, delivered the songs in a subdued voice, and the new arrangements smartly accentuated the material's folk and classical influences.

He also took a few of his signature, breathy, half-crazed flute solos, and was in particularly good form on "Bouree," Tull's jazzed-up Bach instrumental that was a mid-'70s FM radio staple. Less successful were the clunky, reassembled versions of "Aqualung" and "Locomotive Breath" that closed the show, though these old favorites still brought the crowd to its feet.

Anderson may not yet be too old to rock 'n' roll--he announced that a new Tull album is forthcoming--but his eccentric, richly nuanced music was well-served by this night's quieter approach.

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